The director of Al-Jazeera slammed 24-hour news channels for their obsession with breaking news (via J-source). He argues that there should be more investigative journalism and analysis than constantly pestering with minute updates as they happen.
Of course, this isn’t just a problem for Arabic news channels, it’s a problem all around the world.
But I’d like to take his thesis and modify it slightly: What bugs me isn’t so much that cable news channels are obsessed with “this just in” news, it’s that the networks are too obsessed with their schedule.
Tune to CNN during the day and watch an interview. It usually follows a predictable path: A news story introduces an issue, and then the anchor speaks to someone by satellite (or two people to get a “debate” going). The guests are asked a few questions, and inevitably end up being cut off by the anchor because they’re “out of time”.
Setting aside for a moment the inherent rudeness of inviting someone on your show and then interrupting them to cut them off, what do you mean you’re out of time? It’s a 24-hour news network. The show doesn’t end.
The problem is that these networks have such rigid schedules. They can be thrown out the window when breaking news happens (a plane crashes, a celebrity gets arrested, a white girl disappears), but they can’t be delayed even by a couple of minutes to let an expert explain a point.
But, of course, actually explaining things isn’t the goal of these news networks, is it?
What? A white girl disappeared? :| And if she’s cute, there will be media panic.
Explain? Keeping you in a state of arousal, that’s the point.